Book Ruminations: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

posted May 13, 2013, 2:56 PM by jj pionke
I would hesitate to call this a book review because I'm not crafting a review so much as just putting out there what I think of the book - so book ruminations it is.

I've been a fan of Mary Roach for quite awhile.  The first book I read by her was called Stiff and if focused on cadavers.  She often focuses on the science of the odd as I like to think of it.  I kind of lost track of her work for awhile, in part because of graduate school the second.  Somewhere on the internet, I saw that she had a new book coming out, Gulp, about digestion - which I have ordered but not yet read.  As the book had not been published when I ordered it, I instead ordered the books that I hadn't read, including Packing for Mars.

Roach is meticulous with her research which is one of the reasons I like her.  She is also hilariously funny.  PFM focuses on life in space and deals with all sorts of things like food, bodily waste elimination, hygiene, and actually surviving outside of one's space ship.  The book focuses heavily on the early years of the space race - Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo.  As someone who wanted nothing more than to be an astronaut when I grew up or at the very least go to Space Camp, I found reading PFM to be in many ways cathartic.  I would probably not have survived weightlessness, a subject that gets an entire chapter because of nausea that it induces in just about everyone until they acclimate.  At any rate, if you have ever wondered about how the heck humanity sent people to space and all the things that go into thinking about how weightlessness effects everything from the body to electronics, then this is the book for you.  I had a roaring good laugh and learned all sorts of fun and funny things - for an end of term read, that's probably just what the astronaut ordered.